Felonies and criminal charges from past Knox County trustees are preventing the interim trustee from obtaining the bonding she needs to fully operate, according to the News Sentinel. The Hartford, the bonding company for the Knox County Trustee’s Office, notified the county that it wouldn’t bond Kristin Phillips, the county’s acting trustee, until the county provided more information on the position.
“That causes great consternation,” Tony Norman, chairman of the Knox County Commission, said. “That affects their daily practices there.”
The lack of the $18.5 million bond for the seat keeps the trustee from investing the county’s tax money and similar jobs. The bond, required for the officeholder, is intended to protect the public from failure to perform duty or malfeasance.
…Phillips became acting trustee after the resignation of the previous officeholder, John J. Duncan III. Duncan pleaded guilty on July 2 to a low-level felony for paying himself and staffers more than $18,000 in bonuses he knew they didn’t earn.
Before him, Mike Lowe, who was trustee from 1994 until being term-limited by the state Supreme Court in 2007, surrendered to authorities in April 2012 following grand jury indictments on multiple counts of felony theft of more than $60,000. The grand jury indicted four others who worked in the county’s tax collection department. Lowe’s trial is set for 2014.
Tennessee’s new commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development says cutting jobless services at 34 sites next month shouldn’t hurt out-of-work Tennesseans seeking employment, reports the Chattanooga TFP. In fact, Commissioner Burns Phillips told members of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee last week, things actually should improve.
The ability to offer services over the Internet will help, he said. And nonprofit Local Workforce Investment Act partners in communities across the state are stepping up to offer services, with the state pitching in computers and other equipment, Phillips said.
“After the career centers were reorganized, there was a lot of angst over that [cuts],” the commissioner said. “But in the final analysis what turned out was we wound up with a broader footprint in the state and not a more narrow footprint.”
He said the state now has 23 state comprehensive centers run by Labor and Workforce Development and 52 affiliates run by LWIAs.
… The 13 Local Workforce Investment Act districts are nonprofit entities funded with pass-through federal dollars. Many have multiple offices aimed at helping the jobless and employers connect.
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said Friday he remains skeptical that the LWIAs will close the gap created by shutting down state-run services in 34 centers and firing 125 state employees.
“It’s very disappointing,” Fitzhugh said, adding that his district in rural West Tennessee is taking a major hit.
“Here we are just coming out of this recession” and the administration chose to “decimate” career centers, he said.
Jobless residents will have to drive farther and some can’t afford an Internet connection to access the department’s website from home, he said.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Burns Phillips as the new commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Phillips had been serving as acting commissioner of the department, after coming over from the Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) where he was managing director of customer-focused government initiatives administration-wide.
“I am very grateful to Burns for taking on this role,” Haslam said. “He has both public and private sector experience and has served in multiple departments at the state level, and I appreciate his willingness to continue serving at Labor and Workforce Development.”
Phillips, 64, received both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University, and he earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 1978.
He worked in the Budget Office of F&A early in his professional career before working in medical sales and marketing in the private sector. In 1991, he founded a surgical instrument company that conducted business in the United States and 30 other countries.
“I am deeply honored that Gov. Haslam has given me this opportunity to serve Tennesseans,” Phillips said. “I am committed to the people and to the work of Labor and Workforce Development, and I will continue to build upon the foundation we have established at the department.”
Phillips and his wife, Sally, live in Nashville and have two children and four grandchildren.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Labor Department officials say they have recouped about $15.3 million worth of fraudulently collected unemployment benefits by garnishing tax refunds and other federal payments to people who were not entitled to receive the assistance.
A scathing audit released earlier this year showed that the state overpaid $73 million in unemployment benefits. The overpayments were the result of both fraud and errors at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The audit was especially critical of the department’s method for recouping fraudulent benefits.
Acting Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips said in a statement that the ability to reclaim fraudulently collected unemployment benefits is critical to the business community. He said the department is focused on developing strategies to prevent people from wrongfully collecting the assistance.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The commissioner and deputy commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development have resigned.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced the resignation of commissioner Karla Davis for family reasons in a news release on Monday. Haslam’s spokesman David Smith said the deputy commissioner, Alisa Malone, also resigned, although he did not provide a reason.
Haslam named Burns Phillips as acting commissioner. Phillips serves as a managing director in the Department of Finance and Administration.
Haslam said Davis has served as commissioner since the beginning of the Haslam administration. Prior to that she served as director of Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE, overseeing programs for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Haslam said he was grateful to Davis for her service.
— Note: The Haslam news release on Davis’ resignation is below.
Kingsport’s mayor and some other city officials “apparently have a strained relationship” with state Rep. Tony Shipley that stems from the lawmaker’s Republican primary battle last year with Alderman Ben Mallicote, according to the Kingsport Times-News.
The following is from a story appearing Friday: At the time, Mayor Dennis Phillips said of Mallicote, “hopefully you’ll be serving us in Nashville.” In addition, Phillips, Alderwoman Valerie Joh, the Kingsport Firefighters Association and the Kingsport Coalition of Police appeared in ads supporting Mallicote.
Carl Moore, a lobbyist and former state senator from Bristol, said in a recent interview that Mallicote’s announcement and Phillips’ endorsement upset Shipley, and that he overheard Shipley express some disturbing emotions concerning the BMA members who were supporting Mallicote.
“That morning I was in a cafeteria in Nashville and Tony came by and was upset about it,” Moore said. “(Shipley) said ‘I don’t understand why … I’ve tried to help them all I can do. I guess I can’t do anything else for them.’ It was very colorful language (Shipley) used and I’ve heard nothing since.”
Phillips said last week he has heard about some troubling comments made by Shipley.
“During and since the election, Tony has been very cold,” Phillips said. “I sent him an e-mail when the election was over, saying ‘I supported your opponent and you won and it’s in everyone’s best interest if we work together and I’d like to have lunch one day.’ I haven’t heard any response.”
Since the election, Phillips said there have been events in Kingsport that he thought Shipley would attend, but he has not, such as the public hearings held last month on the State Route 126 improvement project — the cornerstone of Shipley’s 2008 campaign.
…Responding in an e-mail Shipley said, “Over the past four years, I’ve been fortunate to build close working relationships with local and county officials throughout the 2nd District. Together, we’ve worked to strengthen DUI laws, address the dangers of ‘bath salts’ and improve infrastructure. We’ve done so with a common goal of improving the lives of Tennesseans, both in the city and county. I will continue to work with everyone who sets the importance of improvement in our community above political spats that don’t achieve progress for the people we represent.”
Vice Mayor Tom Parham said …”Shipley has strength and support in the Colonial Heights areas and there’s developed some animosity towards Kingsport, fueled by that election… It’s the city’s challenge to heal that rift. We must engage the people in Colonial Heights … to be new residents in the city and work very hard to include all of our elected representatives with our plans as we go forward.”
News release from Windrow Phillips Group:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee government-relations veterans Anna Durham Windrow and Bill R. Phillips today announced they are forming the Windrow Phillips Group, a new firm offering a range of services to clients with issues involving state government.
In making the announcement, Windrow and Phillips formalized an existing strategic partnership and merged their practices under the same professional banner. The Windrow Phillips Group represents leading businesses and employers including: Amazon.com, Bank of America, CRC Health, Evergreen Packaging, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, and Western Union.
“We’re pleased to make this partnership official,” Windrow said. “Bill Phillips brings decades of strategic experience in government and politics, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the years ahead.” For his part, Phillips added: “Anna Windrow is one of the most respected government-relations professionals working with the Tennessee General Assembly and on Capitol Hill. We make a great team.”
The Windrow Phillips Group will be based in the Nashville City Center, overlooking the Tennessee State Capitol and Legislative Plaza. Also joining the firm as a member is Baylor Bone Swindell, an attorney who has worked on Capitol Hill for a decade. Combined, the firm has more than 75 years of government and political experience.
Phillips brings a depth in front-line experience in politics and government, including stints as: campaign manager; press secretary; chief of staff to former Gov. Bob List of Nevada; chief of staff at the Republican National Committee; chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education; manager of the 1988 Republican National Convention; and deputy director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under former President George H.W. Bush.
Most recently, Phillips served as Nashville’s deputy mayor from 1999 to 2007. He is a former associate vice chancellor of university relations for Vanderbilt University and former visiting professional scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center where co-authored the book “Nothing Sacred: Journalism, Politics and Public Trust in a Tell-All Age.” Phillips will continue to represent clients at the local government level.
Windrow, who served as the senior advisor to former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has worked in politics and government relations in Tennessee for most of her career. She began in public affairs for First American National Bank and later worked for former U.S. Senator Jim Sasser on his campaign and Senate staff. She served as executive director of the Tennessee Building Materials Association and worked for a decade as legislative director for the Nashville law firm Bass Berry & Sims. Windrow has overseen her own government relations practice for over 15 years.
Two years after Nashville attorney Judson Phillips failed to lure tea party activists to a rally in Las Vegas, a judge is ordering him to pay the bill for a slew of hotel rooms he booked for the event, reports The Tennessean. Phillips, the founder of the for-profit corporation Tea Party Nation, owes the Venetian Casino Resort more than $748,000, according to the ruling. The hotel alleged Phillips reserved 1,637 room nights for a July 2010 event but then canceled the gathering just a few weeks prior.
A claim was filed against Phillips in July of last year. The judgment, handed down last month by the Clark County District Court, represents the unpaid bill of $554,000 plus nearly two years of interest for an additional $194,300 in charges.
According to court records, Phillips appeared to take little interest in defending himself. He filed nothing to counter the hotel’s claims and at last month’s hearing when the motion for default judgment was heard, no one represented him. Phillips did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the decision..